Kill em and leave book

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kill em and leave book

Book Review: Kill 'Em and Leave: Searching for the Real James Brown |

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Published 15.12.2018

James McBride at the Alabama Booksmith - "Kill 'Em and Leave"

D uring his career, which spanned nearly five decades, James Brown was known as the hardest-working man in show business: he toured constantly, wrote songs, sold more than two hundred million albums worldwide, and made forty-five gold records. Here, too, his feelings about his subject turn out to be mixed. Brown was, in his later years, a generous philanthropist, but McBride learns that he was also a hard-driving bandleader who fined and berated his musicians for the smallest infractions.

Kill 'em and Leave

Comparing James McBride's search for James Brown with the quest depicted in the classic John Ford film The Searchers reveals some dramatic changes in American racial attitudes over the years, along with some consistencies. Born to a black minister and his white wife, McBride grew up in New York City, studied musical composition at Oberlin, and earned a degree in journalism at Columbia. He's written for major publications, has composed music for Spike Lee films, and, on saxophone, has backed Little Jimmy Scott. McBride won a National Book Award for The Good Lord Bird , a historical novel about the abolitionist John Brown, and his vivid, often tender depictions of supporting characters in the James Brown saga showcase his novelistic skills. The book mingles rapid-fire volleys of short sentences, invariably on target, with extended sentences that never become tangled. It's easy and enjoyable to read.

You know what? For example, I never feel that I am learning as much about the mood and meaning of jazz than when I am reading Stanley Crouch, notwithstanding the excellence of Gary Giddins. Another of my own formative music writers was Nelson George, whose columns in The Village Voice in the late s ruminated on and elevated black music — funk, soul and hip-hop — in ways that were inaccessible to white writers, no matter how much those writers appreciated the tunes. This contemporary tendency in which black writers lay claim to the discourse of black music — this increasing tendency — is a much needed development for anyone who cares about modern music. How numerous are the difficulties when writing about Mr. Brown as many of the interviewees call him in this thoughtful and probing work. Unlike Aretha Franklin or Al Green, Brown was not terribly close to the African-American church, not after his early years, so he does not have the spiritual yearning that those singers have.


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